What could be more serene and relaxing than a park? The word harkens one back to childhood days of swing sets and slides, birthday parties, and picnics. The parks in South Carolina’s Olde English District have all of that to offer and more. And today, visitors are flocking to the district’s 10 state parks and historic sites to experience all that these beautiful landmarks have in store.
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has greatly increased people’s desire to get out of their homes — to breathe in the fresh air these wide-open spaces offer. “We have noticed a real increase in visitors from pre-pandemic numbers,” says Jenny Parish, executive director of The Olde English District. “The growing number of virtual students and professionals can more easily travel during the week and work or study from anywhere. Parents are eager to get their kids outside and reintroduce them to the beauty of the state park, where they can truly immerse themselves in nature.”
Helping with this influx of visitors is the new necessity: Wi-Fi. All of the state parks in the district are equipped with the technology, enabling visitors to stay on the grid while feeling as if they are off.
While the sheer beauty and tranquility of the parks is its own draw, the experiences they offer are second to none. Landsford Canal State Park in Catawba, South Carolina, is home to the largest crop of Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies. These glorious flowers live under the water on the Catawba River, blooming atop for only one month during the spring. This infrequent, lovely event draws tourists from all over the world. Unlike other parks, visitors aren’t able to stay overnight at Landsford Canal State Park, so many plan a stay at neighboring Andrew Jackson or Chester parks. Visitors can glide through the lilies in a kayak or join a guided tour to learn more about the surrounding waters and the story of the elusive spider lily.
Nestled in Cheraw, South Carolina, is a golfer’s delight. A popular travel destination for avid golfers, Cheraw State Park is one of only two state parks with an 18-hole golf course. The park also boasts cozy cabins for guests looking to extend their stay. Located off the beaten path, Cheraw State Park is highlighted by the beautiful Lake Juniper. A boardwalk graces the lake, allowing for a leisurely stroll or a good, long run, while fishermen delight in the park’s pier, providing convenient access for casting a rod and looking to catch a bite. Cheraw State Park, like many state parks in The Olde English District, is truly a hidden gem.
Chester State Park is home to another type of golf course — a 9-hole and an 18-hole disc golf course, which has become increasingly popular. The park recently opened a camper cabin, allowing visitors to camp, while having the amenities of home at their disposal. Over in Kershaw County, Goodale State Park overflows with majestic bald cypress trees, providing shade and a remarkable backdrop for kayakers. The swampy surroundings transport visitors to a brand-new world of both serenity and adventure.
“We are delighted to see so many guests enjoying all that our state parks have to offer,” says Jenny. “There is no better way to slow down and unplug from all the craziness in the world. Our parks are all open for business, and we are excited for visitors to experience their beauty.”
Whether it is a week-long respite or a quick day trip, the parks in The Olde English District have something for everyone. And after a year filled with much upheaval, there is no better place than a park to disconnect from stress and reconnect with nature, family, and self.